Nick Hart flew from Boston to queue starting at 1 am for a ticket outside a vacant storefront in Hollywood.
The motives behind his nearly 5,000-kilometre trip were tattooed on his biceps: singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash, the long-estranged pillars of rock band Guns N' Roses.
Hart was among hundreds of fans, many tattooed and dressed in black, lined up Friday in front of a shuttered Tower Records store on Sunset Boulevard. Members of the crowd said they were drawn by the siren call of a Guns N' Roses surprise reunion show at the Troubador club late that evening.
Los Angeles publicist Kim Estlund, who handled the band's recent announcement of an official reunion starting April 8-9 in Las Vegas, issued a statement early Friday: "The most anticipated music event of the millennium is set! Guns N' Roses will play their FIRST live gig of 2016 on the hallowed ground where they started, The Troubadour, TONIGHT, Friday, April 1."
Even at the height of their popularity in the late 1980s and early '90s, the band was a volatile mix of personalities complicated by substance abuse, infamous for shows starting hours late or cancelled without notice.
Guns N' Roses' official website on Friday cryptically asked "April Fools?" on an opening page, before directing visitors to the main website, where the news section plugged tickets available at the old Tower Records store - at the nostalgic price of 10 dollars - for a show at the storied Troubadour on the Sunset Strip.
An old-fashioned concert flyer promised an appearance "sometime after 11 pm ... from the boys who will bring you the most chaotic tour of 2016."
"10 bucks - I'm going!" Hart declared in line.
He was "not at all" worried about any trickery: "We've spoken to the right people, and we're good."
Later, certified Twitter accounts of original Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash and bass player Duff McKagan posted announcements for the gig, and the band's official Twitter account published a photo of its drum kit assembled on the stage at the Troubadour, one of the Los Angeles clubs where the young rockers got started, before the 1987 album Appetite for Destruction made them one of the biggest bands in the world.
Some diehard fans were in line for hours outside the former record store, which is now owned by Gibson Guitars. Mike Torres, 34, said he "followed the clues" of the imminent reunion after two decades, and had been waiting since 8 pm Thursday.
Another fan, Al Davidson, said the event was "way too elaborate" to be a hoax.
"If it were, if would be incredible," Torres chimed in, "so that's cool either way."
The closed store, where band member Slash once worked, was renovated overnight and decked with the band's logos. Police barriers, too, were covered with Guns N' Roses logos.
The first 250 people in line were told they could purchase tickets for the show at 10 dollars a piece, part of the band's effort at "retro pricing."
According to Estlund's email, the store was "transformed into a complete interactive GNR experience with a memorabilia exhibit" that will "include historic items such as members' classic attire, original artwork, personal awards and more."
Next week's sold-out concerts in Las Vegas are to be followed by Guns N' Roses playing both weekends of the Coachella music festival in Indio, California, April 16 and 23, with a flyby to Mexico City in between.
Last month, the band announced a summer 2016 tour of 21 US cities.
The shows will bring frontman Axl Rose back together on stage with Slash and McKagan for the first time in 23 years. Plans made public so far do not include rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin.
The band finally hit the stage late Friday, living up to its Troubadour commitment but defying the name of a reunion that many thought would never come: Not in This Lifetime Tour.